This itinerary around the Imola area will lead to the discovery of some of these places, with their stories connecting to local and national history.
A rationalist building on the first hills of Imola: it looks like many others from the outside, but keeps its surprising history on the inside.
The origins of this villa date back to 1637, and throughout the centuries it was used by many different families as a countryside residence.
The building saw alternating periods of deterioration and great splendour. The heritage of this richness are some frescoes and the impressive double stairs in the main salon.
The true glorious moment for this villa started with the owner Umberto Muggia, a Jewish merchant from Lombardy, who bought the property in 1935 and chose Piero Bottoni, a young architect from Milan, as project manager for a complete remodeling of the building. Bottoni, with extraordinary sensitivity, managed to save what was left of the past glory of the villa and enclose it in an outer shell with Cubist inspiration.
Unfortunately, German bombings during World War II deeply devastated Villa Muggia: the façade and main salon, completely destroyed, made the building not fit to live in, and it never came back to life.
When exploring the hills around Imola, we meet another “wreck of memory”: Montecatone sanatorium, inaugurated by Mussolini himself in 1936. Built to host those who suffered from tubercolosis, it was made of three halls: one for women, one for men, one for soldiers. It also hosted a cinema, a chapel and a mortuary.
The hilly position, away from urban centers, the healthy air and closeness to Bologna University offering specific therapies for TBC, were the reasons why Imola was chosen for building the sanatorium, between 1930 and 1941.
While two of the halls have been converted into different use, Luigi Pasolini Hall was used until 1990 then completely abandoned.
Last stop for this itinerary is a village nested on a mount, not far from Castel del Rio, on Via Montanara connecting Imola to Florence.
The village of Castiglioncello has more than 1200 years of history. For a long time, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and Grand Duchy of Bologna were fighting for its possession: it had a strategic position on the ancient Via Montanara, the only route connecting Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna.
A series of unfortunate events, including raids, lightning strikes and mysterious legends, contributed to the depopulation of the village. In the early 60’s, the building of the new Via Montanara, which left out the village, and the lack of a bridge over the Santerno river, doomed Castiglioncello to become a ghost town.
The remains of the village are today merged with vegetation, nature embraces the buildings in a perfect harmony between ruins and landscape.